© 2010 Kae Cheatham
Adult: L, V | Print edition: $15.95
In 1870, Elizabeth Fortune is more spunky than most young women, but those attributes are often a cover for the despair she feels at being without family. Her white mother died when she was five, and her black-Indian father is in the Southwest with the Ninth Cavalry. When Elizabeth's maternal grandfather disowns her, she leaves Oberlin College and heads West. She feels certain that when she finds her father, her life will stop its rough tumble.
But her trip produces a variety of hardships, beginning when she runs out of money in Ellsworth, Kansas, which results in her maiming the son of dangerous outlaw leader Gabe Tillison. She must rely on all her personal resources as she escapes Tillison's wrath and travels the Santa Fe Trail toward New Mexico. For a young woman in 1870, that's hard enough, but for someone of mixed American Indian, African American, and Anglo American heritage, it's a challenge that few could manage.